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  Mon, June 21, 2004


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Richest Smith in baseball
Bob Elliott reveals who in the Blue Jays organization got $14.8 million this year
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

Good things happen to good people.

Pat Smith, office manager of the Blue Jays' Florida operations in Dunedin, and her husband Bob, won the Florida State Lottery, which could have been worth $27 million US over 30 years. The Smiths, however, elected to take a one-time payout of $14.8 million.

They picked the same numbers -- 3, 4, 12, 21, 23, and 27 -- as they have for 15 years.

Pat was born Dec. 23, Bob Dec. 27 and since both are December babies they picked No. 12. That explains Nos. 12, 23, and 27. Why Nos. 3, 4 and 21? Just because.

Bob, 57 an internal loss prevention manager for Office Depot, quickly retired.

As for Pat, 59? "I told Ken Carson, I might be here three months, six months or a year, but I still want to work."

Since winning, she has taken off four days to visit her son in Orlando, Fla.

Carson and Smith have run the Jays operation since 1990. The Smiths won the May 6 drawing, the night the Friends finale was aired on TV. It was more than a month before they could comment.

LOST FIVE POUNDS

"The first few weeks were pure hell. We couldn't tell anyone," Smith said. "We had to get a financial adviser, a tax attorney and an accountant. I couldn't sleep. I lost five pounds. One night I went to bed at 1 a.m., woke up at 3 and cleaned until 7."

How does a lottery winner tell his mate that they are suddenly rich? Pat had already gone to work, when Bob spotted the winning numbers in the newspaper.

Bob headed to the Publix store in Clearwater, Fla., where he bought the ticket, to have the winning numbers printed and checked again. He drove past the lottery's flashing billboard on US19. No more did it blink $27 million. Someone had won. He called the lottery office in Tallahassee to verify the numbers.

Bob then went to work with the ticket in his pocket. That night Pat was at the Lifestyles gym when Bob walked in.

"I was at the desk, lowering our membership to save $250 and he said 'you don't need to do that,' but he didn't tell me," she said.

The two worked out, with Bob putting the ticket in his sweat pants while he walked the treadmill. They drove home in separate cars.

"Bob asked me to sit down," Pat Smith said, "I thought he was going to tell me he'd been fired. I'm not sure what I did, but I must have yelled, because my daughter came out crying -- she thought he was sick."

Daughter Kimberly, 30, was visiting. They phoned son Robert, 28, who was in a clothing store in Orlando. A recent law school grad, he was told: "Your student loan, your car loan are paid. Buy anything you want."

The Smiths will give their house to Kim, give Robert the same dollar amount for a down payment on a house and buy new digs for themselves.

At least someone with the Jays is winning.

This news is like discovering Canadian money is accepted at par: Suddenly, someone with the Jays has an influx of cash.

Pat Smith's favourite player is Carlos Delgado.

"Some players walk by without saying hi. Not Carlos," Smith said. "He goes out of his way to stop, ask about your family. He's so down-to-earth."

With Delgado's contract ending, will Smith help out in talks between Delgado and Rogers Communications to keep him with the Jays?

"I love Carlos," Smith said, "but I'm not chipping in."

Nor should she. The Smiths should enjoy THEIR millions.